Last night, the United Methodist Church elected Rev. Dr. Karen Oliveto to be a Bishop in the Western Jurisdiction. It is a long-coming victory. She is a lesbian. Her wife stood behind her as Karen made her acceptance speech. This is something we have long strived for.
What made this a most significant and moving moment was the leadership from three candidates alongside Karen--Rev. Siosifa Hingano, Rev. Skip Strickland, and Rev. Dr. Dottie Escobedo-Frank. There were originally 9 candidates. There are 100 votes. Someone must gather a 2/3 majority of the votes. So there is vote after vote after vote as the field winnows and the votes disperse among the remaining candidates. Hingano withdrew prior to the 7th ballot. Strickland, the 16th ballot. Escobed0-Frank before the 17th ballot.
What these champions said as they withdrew their candidacy to forward the election of the first LGBTQ Bishop in the UMC:
Siosifa Hingano: I see myself as a one-man mission, willing to lay down my life for a member of the body of Christ. I am willing to lay down my life and my body and my faith to hold the door so some people can walk freely.
Skip Strickland: I realize that there is a dream of God that is trying to tighten up the connection between human beings...It's time for the church to be set free.
Dottie Escobedo-Frank: If we don't make a witness to the world to be loving to the whole body of Christ then why in the heck are we here?
This is the pure example of what good allyship looks like. Allyship is sacrificing your personal gain or power in favor of a traditionally oppressed group. We can all learn something from this gracious modeling from Sifa, Skip, and Dottie.
The 17th ballot came. Bishop Melvin Talbert led a prayer-song, "Breathe on us breath of God," and the only name before the body, Karen Oliveto, an out and queer woman, was elected.
On a day that included the news of a coup attempt in Turkey, a sort of spiritual coup happened that released the prisoner, recovered the sight of the blind, and set the oppressed free. It is the nature of our life that we hold tensions together. I am joyful today. And I cried and cried.
Karen Oliveto and her spouse, Robin Ridenour, are a pair of the most generous people I have ever met. I met them a couple years ago this way. Colin, my son, needed surgery. The best person was in San Francisco. We decided to go for it. I thought, though, that recovering in a hotel room would be icky. I reached out to Karen through the Methodist connection. Something like this.
"Hi! I'm a Methodist pastor in the PacNW. We are coming to San Francisco for my son to have surgery. I am wondering if you can ask the folks in your congregation if they can give us a room or two?"
The answer: "Come! Stay with us."
That is hospitality, generosity, and all the things amazing. I expect Karen will instill that ethic in the clergy she coaches. Brava, Karen. Brava, church.
Today's practice brings us music from Indigo Girls, a blessing from John O'Donohue, wisdom from Karen Oliveto, and a photo from Sergio Ruiz at flickr. Along with readings from the Jewish and Christian lectionaries, the Qur'an, and the Buddhist tradition. And as always, we have our BIBOLOVE practice from Soyinka Rahim. (BIBO = Breathe In, Breathe Out). Our prayers for this week focus on Columbia, Ecuador, Venezuela.
Let my heart rise up to meet mercy, my voice to meet compassion, my hands to meet action.
BIBOLOVE: Breath In, Breath Out--roar
Hammer and a Nail by the Indigo Girls
My life is part of the global life
I'd found myself becoming more immobile
When I'd think a little girl in the world can't do anything.
A distant nation my community
A street person my responsibility
If I have a care in the world I have a gift to bring.
For a Leader by John O'Donohue
May you have the grace and wisdom
To act kindly, learning
To distinguish between what is
Personal and what is not.
May you be hospitable to criticism.
May you never put yourself at the center of things.
May you act not from arrogance but out of service.
May you work on yourself,
Building up and refining the ways of your mind.
May those who work for you know
You see and respect them.
May you learn to cultivate the art of presence
In order to engage with those who meet you.
When someone fails or disappoints you,
May the graciousness with which you engage
Be their stairway to renewal and refinement.
May you treasure the gifts of the mind
Through reading and creative thinking
So that you continue as a servant of the frontier
Where the new will draw its enrichment from the old,
And you never become a functionary.
May you know the wisdom of deep listening,
The healing of wholesome words,
The encouragement of the appreciative gaze,
The decorum of held dignity,
The springtime edge of the bleak question.
May you have a mind that loves frontiers
So that you can evoke the bright fields
That lie beyond the view of the regular eye.
May you have good friends
To mirror your blind spots.
May leadership be for you
A true adventure of growth.
Jewish Daily Reading: Daily Study from Chabad
Christian Daily Reading: Revised Common Lectionary Daily Reading
Muslim Daily Reading: Daily Verse from The Only Quran
Buddhist Daily Reading: Daily Zen
Please bring your own sacred readings to the daily pattern. If there is something else you'd like to see, let me know!
“We want to give hope to young people who are struggling,” Rev. Dr. Karen Oliveto
I will be taking the weekly prayer from the World Council of Churches. We know the world needs to be surrounded with prayer and positive thought. This allows us to work through the world country by country. I know it is not de rigeur to have repetitive content, but I believe that these prayers deserve to be repeated.
Focus countries: Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela
Let us pray.
We know that we fail to live up to being makers of peace. Let us bring in rather than push out, be invitational rather than confrontational--seeing signs of life while decrying the desecration of hope.
For signs of hope and peace, we pray for
- Those who pay the high cost of working for justice and peace.
- People who live faithfully in the midst of violence.
- Fishermen and farmers who feed their families and their countries.
- Llapingachos (potato and cheese pancakes), aji (hot sauce), locro soup (made with cheese, avocado and potato), choclo (barbecued Andean corn), ceviche (a seafood dish marinated in lemon and onions, which is always served with popcorn), and pabellon (seasoned shredded beef, served with beans, rice and fried plantains).
- Giant tortoises, iguanas and other unique wildlife on the Galapagos Islands, and those trying to preserve their environment.
- Those who work on behalf of the poor.
For the oppressed and weary, we pray for
- Continued progress towards peace in Colombia and the establishment of a safe environment for all people.
- The creation of a stable and fair economy in Ecuador.
- An end to corruption by government officials.
- An end to drug production and trafficking, and the availability of other methods of economic activity.
- The indigenous peoples of these countries, who often bear the brunt of poverty amid growing economic disparity.
- Those who are poor, unemployed, and grieving, and those who work with them.
- Those affected by flooding and earthquakes.
- Those kidnapped or held hostage and their families.
- Those who have left their families and friends to go to another country to support those back home.
For those who suffer, are homeless, or are sick
For those we love, those we hate and those we are indifferent to
For the transformation from ME to WE
Let peace prevail on earth.
So may it be.
Translation by Neil Douglas Klotz, Sufi
O Birther! Creator of the Cosmos,
Focus your light within us— make it useful:
Create your reign of unity now-
Your one desire then acts with ours,
as in all light, so in all forms.
Grant what we need each day in bread and insight.
Loose the cords of mistakes binding us,
as we release the strands we hold of others’ guilt.
Don’t let surface things delude us,
But free us from what holds us back.
From you is born all ruling will,
the power and the life to do,
the song that beautifies all,
from age to age it renews.
Truly— power to these statements—
may they be the ground from which all
my actions grow: Amen.